The great silence masking a growing tragedy

By Sumantra Maitra
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 24, 2015
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The main opposition, the Republican People's Party, issued a human rights report listing the names of 2,899 people killed in the last 11 months of Turkish crackdown on the Kurds. This was said to be 30 percent higher than comparative figures last year.

Yet, the silence is deafening. There haven't been any motions presented in the United Nation to denounce Saudi war crimes in Yemen, perhaps because Saudi Arabia is on the human rights panel. Nor has there been any condemnation in Europe of the blatant extra judicial killings in Turkey. Why is that so?

First of all, from a strictly Realist perspective, it makes sense. The West needs the Saudis as a counter balance against Iran in the Middle East. Even though it is not clear how much military backing the Iranians are giving the Houthis, Iran is bound to remain occupied with this conflict, due to ideological, political and moral support of their Shia brethren, and also because Iran considers itself the predominant Shia power against [Saudi] Sunni influence in the Middle East.

Being so occupied, the Iranians have less time to cause trouble elsewhere (Israel, for example).

Similarly, Turkey, with all its faults, is invaluable to the West for two reasons. Turkey is the NATO ally closest to the Syrian conflict, the same conflict which has now seen the biggest mobilization of an axis force of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah fighters. The Turkish military, therefore, is the biggest counterbalance to raw Russian power in the Middle East.

Even more importantly, Turkey is the gateway to millions of refugees wanting to cross over to Europe. Turkey is essentially blackmailing the EU into submission, because one false note will open the floodgates of human migration, which will then become literally unstoppable without the use of military force.

However, this silence comes at a cost. The West prides itself on democracy and human rights, while this silence on two of the biggest human rights breaches will gnaw at its credibility for years to come.

The writer is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors only, not necessarily those of

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